FOXBORO, Mass. — Daniel Jones was not keeping up with the other Jones. There were some stark differences with the two quarterbacks Wednesday as the Giants and Patriots battled each other and the intense heat in a joint practice.
There were two adjacent fields. On one, Daniel Jones and the Giants’ offense went against the Patriots’ defense, starters vs. starters. On the other field, rookie Mac Jones led the Patriots’ offense against the Giants’ defense. Two fields, two Jones’ running the show, two different results on a 91-degree day.
“Yeah, kind of up and down,’’ Daniel Jones said. “Made some plays, didn’t do some things great. We got to look at a few things and clean it up. That’s the way practice is sometimes, you got to be able to push through.’’
The Giants need to push through this and get to Sept. 12 and the real thing — the regular-season opener against the Broncos — looking much better on offense than they are showing thus far this summer.
There is no doubt the absences of receivers Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney and John Ross, all dealing with hamstring issues, and tight end Kyle Rudolph — who came off the physically unable to perform list on Wednesday following foot surgery — greatly diminish the quality of the passing game. And, of course, Saquon Barkley has not participated in any live drills coming off ACL surgery. So, this is barely a semblance of the firepower the Giants expect to put on the field when all the ailing are healed.
Still, the entire operation needs to pick it up.
Daniel Jones tossed back-to-back touchdown passes to tight end Evan Engram in one 7-on-7 period but failed to get the Giants into the end zone on the next session.
In the first team period, Jones completed a pass to Darius Slayton, had to pull the ball down and run when no one got open and then looked for Slayton over the middle but was intercepted by defensive back Kyle Dugger — the ball sailing directly into his hands.
In a two-minute drill series, Jones started strong, connecting twice with Slayton before throwing wide of Sterling Shepard. There was a dropped pass by tight end Nakia Griffin-Stewart and, to end the “drive’’ a throw to tight end Jake Hausmann that fell to the grass, with Adrian Phillips all over the intended target.
“I felt we came out here and competed,’’ Engram said. “We could compete more. We got to execute more.
“I think our biggest thing is to start fast, that’s been a big goal for us for the last couple weeks, starting fast and getting going. That’s been a huge point of emphasis for us. We got to continue to improve on that and continue to get in a rhythm and execute more consistently.
“I think we started fast, I think we got to stay fast. I think we started fast and kind of let off on the gas a little bit, that’s us figuring out the mistakes and fixing that.’’
Another offensive series included a false start penalty and a pass to Alex Bachman that was deflected away. The series ended with Jones on what was basically a throwaway, firing the ball wide of Slayton.
One positive that came out of the day: Jones usually had time to scan the field, as the Giants’ offensive line held up against the Patriots’ defensive front.
“I thought we made some plays, some plays down in the red zone, we were able to move the ball in the two-minute,’’ Jones said. “Some things we got to clean up and some plays we got to look at and correct moving forward.’’
Contrast this to what Mac Jones and the Patriots were doing to the formidable Giants’ defense. At one point, the rookie from Alabama was 21-of-23, completing 14 consecutive passes. Mac Jones dropped in the NFL Draft and the Patriots scooped him up at No. 15. With Cam Newton away from the team after a breach of COVID protocol, it was Mac Jones’s show to run in the first practice against the Giants. He took full advantage of it. Newton is expected back for Thursday’s practice, but he has a poised rookie making a challenge for the starting job.
“I didn’t get a chance to watch a whole lot of their offense,’’ Daniel Jones said, asked if he got a glimpse of Mac Jones in action. “I’m more focused on what we’re doing and trying to get ready for the next series.’’
Good plan. There is plenty the Giants need to focus on to get their offense where it needs to be.
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